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Old 02.09.2011, 01:42
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Housing; complete disaster - advice?

Dear All,

I've ed up - big style. Situation;

Young single, 27 year old. Moved to zurich 7 months ago in Jan with a decent job, my boss rented me an independent studio in his (large) house at market rates for the first 6 months. The idea was to move elsewhere, I actually really like my boss... but hopefully people will appreciate that's not an ideal situation... but in Zurich housing can be tough.

Meanwhile I joined a band, and met through that a friend of a friend. This girl studies in England, and has (apparently) rented (for a long time) a flat in Adliswil, which she wanted to keep hold of. I agreed to sublet it from her; apparently this can be a common pattern with the Swiss. The flat is actually nice (with garden!), and the price appeared reasonable, but not cheap for what it is, location, and size.

So, after meeting with her a few times, we had some drinks over a couple of evenings and got to know each other a little. She talked me through the flat, rent, taking out the rubbish etc, I went and saw the flat. I decided to go for it.

She 'forgot' the contract several times during our meetings, but ultimately did bring something along which has the look of something meaningful, and I ultimately went to her parents house to sign it. I had it roughly translated previously by my (fluent) collegues, and the behaviour pattern and contract thus far appeared consistent with housing trends, along with having an air of legitimacy (correct logos, language etc). The arrangement ended being that I would sublet the flat, and I agreed in principle she could occasionally stay over weekends back in CH when not studying, and a couple of weeks here before heading to London - I actually have no problem with this in principle as I had similar wishes as a student and frankly I don't mind reasonable company. I put down the deposit... and I've now actually moved in - I have the keys and have been living there for a week. I have handed back the keys to my bosses place and 'burnt that bridge'.

So far so good... I was busy (killing myself at work) at the time (this is a continuing theme with my project at the moment), and probably didn't do enough due diligence. The patterns appeared reasonable, she seemed okay and I got the impression these kind of arrangements were not uncommon.

So at the moment;
- 'a couple of weeks' apparently extends to the end of September (was supposed to be the beginning when we talked), I did not have in mind that she could live here rent free for almost 2 months.
- she is talking about being here for longer periods over Xmas, NY etc. This is not the occasional 'weekend' we talked about
- she is a complete stoner. I come home and she is sat on the couch almost hotboxing the room...
- so the place stinks.
- there are regulaly groups of people here in the evenings, often also smokers.
- They stay up late talking, playing music etc, so not as much sleep as I would like.
- I'm confident (i.e 100%) that she is actually properly screwing me over on the rent - I was told it is common practise to pay into the direct letters account directly, and for her to continue paying the actual rental company. I suspect the ratio of my payments to her vs her payments to the real company may be as low as 50%. I screwed this up.
- I apparently actually still have the only copy of the 'contract'... which is just weird... she has just asked for a copy. Given the importance of such a document, and the fact she didn't copy it I'm starting to question it's legitimacy.
- She has a non-trivially sized deposit of mine.

I'm not keen to get flamed in a 'you idiot' contest. I genuinely did due some due diligence, but clearly not enough. I also genuinely believe now that she is a ruthless B*tch; basically intending to leech off me, and the fact she is naturalised Swiss to enjoy a sweet life doing sweet FA.

So worst case; contract holds no validity, I need to find another apartment urgently and suck this up whilst I live here. I lose the deposit. I can suck this up, but it's going to be properly painful.

So, advice? I need to get this girl out of my life, sharpish.
Other options than above?
Is the rent profiteering illegal, are there people I can talk about this? Confrontation? Is it worth it given that at the moment, there is no serious plan B, other than a hotel, if this goes nasty.
Contract? Behaviour here? My notice period is apparently 3 months, and I must stay a minimum of 6. Do I need to respect this? Can I move out tomorrow if i can find a place?
Deposit? Probability of getting this back, right to recourse if it goes south?

Constructive opinions and advice welcomed below.
Simon (written to the sound of pumping tunes :-/).
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Old 02.09.2011, 02:17
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

Ufff, what's a complicated situation! I really feel for you. The first thing which comes to my mind you should check with the lawyer that contract is legal and what happens to you in the case you do not follow it and move out tomorrow. Second, all your oral agreement with this girl are only oral, it's written nowhere
So if u are legally renting then kick her out and never let her come in until your sublet finishes
Third, concerning music the visitors listen to in the middle of the night. In Switzerland it's forbidden even for neighbors, not talking about flatmates. So tell them you call the police
If legally you can stop the contract then you can explain situation to your boss and he might accept you back
Or it's possible to find another dwelling. It took me less than a week to find a good one.
And the main, cheer up! It's not the end of the world- you will get out.
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Old 02.09.2011, 03:47
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

I would tell her that she is welcome to stay but if she is going to stay more than the agreed on occasional weekend you expect her to pay for 1/2 the rent and thus you will only be giving her 1/2 the rent from now on. Then I would start looking for a new place.

If she doesn't want to pay 1/2 the rent, change the locks & look for a new place as well.

All this after you have the tenants association look at the contract. I don't know what it's called in german. Let me look it up.
Here it is: http://www.mieterverband.ch/zh_top.0.html

Anyway, if you like your boss & he likes you, maybe you should talk to him and see what he says, if he can advise you out of the situation.
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Old 02.09.2011, 04:27
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

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I would tell her that she is welcome to stay but if she is going to stay more than the agreed on occasional weekend you expect her to pay for 1/2 the rent and thus you will only be giving her 1/2 the rent from now on. Then I would start looking for a new place.

If she doesn't want to pay 1/2 the rent, change the locks & look for a new place as well.

All this after you have the tenants association look at the contract. I don't know what it's called in german. Let me look it up.
Here it is: http://www.mieterverband.ch/zh_top.0.html

Anyway, if you like your boss & he likes you, maybe you should talk to him and see what he says, if he can advise you out of the situation.
Excellent advice. Your boss may also be able to recommend a good lawyer, or indeed the company lawyer, if there is one.

I hate to say it but the same thing happened to my husband. He sub-let an apartment (at high cost), only to find that a week later the tenant, and his friend (!), had cut short their US trip and returned to live in the office of the apartment, rent free for the next few weeks .....

I think, in the first instance, have a civilised chat with her, in which you say that you hadn't realised that she would be around so much and that you felt that she had misled you. Secondly, stress that the current situation is not acceptable and thirdly, you are looking for somewhere else and will require your deposit back in full, as per the contract. Best of luck.
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Old 02.09.2011, 14:40
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

and request her/parents opening up a propper deposit bank account in case you stay there.
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Old 02.09.2011, 14:57
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

In some cantons you are not allowed to sublet your property for more than the price paid to the agency.

The workaround is to make a separate contract renting the furniture, for furnished sublet.

In your case, her behavior seems to be really abusing.

Seek any help you can, sue her, have no pity.
Contact the agency as well, as part of a protective strategy! (not to revenge or create harm, but to cover your ass).

Go, get her!!
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Old 02.09.2011, 15:17
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

My advise: GET OUT. She sounds like she is on the verge of becoming a Bunny Boiler. How can you sleep at night knowing she has access to the kitchen knives.
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Old 02.09.2011, 15:48
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

The website referred to above has lawyers you can speak to, you just have to ask for one who speaks English. I don't think it sounds like anything is enforcable nor the contract legit. I don't really see stoner girl going out and getting a lawyer if you decide to leave before the 6 month period. The deposit will be more difficult.

I feel for you that's just such a dreadful situation when you were trying to do something good by letting her stay. Good luck.
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Old 02.09.2011, 16:25
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

Thanks for the replies so far.

From what I can read nothing she's doing is illegal. It's frustrating that the system is setup in such a fashion that it is so easy to take advantage.

The strategy is definitely to get out; I think to start with I try and keep it civil and talk things over with her. I actually expect that to get me no-where. There is no advantage of surprise in keeping this close to my chest, and because things are so bad already I appear to have little to lose.

The only weapon I have appears to be that I haven't actually signed the contract and returned it to her (have been fobbing her off), but I don't like it as a strategy, because I have nothing to hide. What I'm worried about is what she can do to me (force me to stay) if I give it to her. I have given her the money, but at this stage I'm thinking that money is a write off... and the sooner I get out the better. I've joined the lawyer people mentioned above (thanks ever so much MiniMia) and started talking inside the company to some lawyers. I'll keep it updated, but this subletting thing is truly extraordinary.
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Old 02.09.2011, 16:30
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

If she is so keen to keep the flat, why not approach her Regie and inform them that you think she is subletting the flat illegally? With any luck, she'll get evicted .
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Old 02.09.2011, 16:31
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

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Thanks for the replies so far.

From what I can read nothing she's doing is illegal. It's frustrating that the system is setup in such a fashion that it is so easy to take advantage.

The strategy is definitely to get out; I think to start with I try and keep it civil and talk things over with her. I actually expect that to get me no-where. There is no advantage of surprise in keeping this close to my chest, and because things are so bad already I appear to have little to lose.

The only weapon I have appears to be that I haven't actually signed the contract and returned it to her (have been fobbing her off), but I don't like it as a strategy, because I have nothing to hide. What I'm worried about is what she can do to me (force me to stay) if I give it to her. I have given her the money, but at this stage I'm thinking that money is a write off... and the sooner I get out the better. I've joined the lawyer people mentioned above (thanks ever so much MiniMia) and started talking inside the company to some lawyers. I'll keep it updated, but this subletting thing is truly extraordinary.
It's tough. But don't be too hard on yourself. & don't do anything until you speak to someone.

Anyway, you'll laugh about it next year!

Good luck & let us know what happens.

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Old 02.09.2011, 16:37
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

@ PaddyG... reading around this sort of stuff on the internet, this would actually yield no advantage or improvement.

If I can make her life hell I will do so, but only when I know things will not get worse for myself; my understanding is that the association would probably not even recognise me or the contract. It is possible she may be evicted, but impossible I would stay (my stuff would be in the road long with hers :-); there is no advantage to doing this, just pure vindictiveness... hmmm...
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Old 02.09.2011, 16:41
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

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just pure vindictiveness... hmmm...

Precisely!
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Old 04.09.2011, 00:07
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You haven't signed? Has she? If not you may have no legal right to be there. Do you have a receipt for the deposit? I would speak to the Mietverband ASAP about how to get your deposit back and get out of there. Give me a call if you get desperate, we won't see a Serpie homeless!
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Old 04.09.2011, 01:56
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

That is very sweet of you Rachel! However, I think the OP not having signed the contract may go in his favour, as long as he received a receipt for the deposit. In any case, if he is speaking to the company lawyer he should be on the right track now
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:24
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

On the deposit, by law a deposit for a rental must be made into an account opened specifically for that purpose in your name but with the other party having a block on the account.

As others have suggested - join the Mietverband and give them the whole story - they love this sort of thing .
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:56
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

Yes agreed, do not sign the contract.

Join the Mieterverband for legal advice

If you have a receipt, go to the Betreibungsamt. You pay them CHF 70,-- and she will be asked by the "Debtors Court" to pay you the money. She receives a black mark on her record for the next 20 years.
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Old 09.09.2011, 09:20
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

So to update the thread with current state, it appears a 'firm chat' was the right move, and things have stayed civil, which means I have a quiet life again... which is ultimately all I want.

- We have agreed no late night noise in the flat.
- Smoking is now done with the windows open, so the flat only smells faintly of smoke instead of stinking (which I guess I can live with).
- She has agreed to pay some non-trivial proportion of rent for the month of September.
- We have agreed to amend certain unacceptable parts of the contract.
- I also know (because I asked) exactly what the 'premium' I am paying for furniture etc is (20%). It's sort of annoying, but the reality is the flat isn't that expensive anyway - I would pay the price so I just have to forget that she's creaming off the top for now.
- Most importantly I'm now pretty sure everything is 'legal and aboveboard', so I shouldn't have problems with return of deposit or the authorities.

Probably more importantly her general behaviour has changed quite a bit after that chat, we wait to see how long everything lasts, but actually I'm feeling guilty now about posting something so vitriolic a couple of days back. I'm still planning to join the Mieterinnin und Mieterverband (I have the application on my desk ready to go) people and have everything properly vetted however. Thanks to all the replies... I think things are getting better which is a big relief.
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Old 09.09.2011, 15:30
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

Excellent news. Well done.
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Old 09.09.2011, 16:19
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Re: Housing; complete disaster - advice?

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but actually I'm feeling guilty now about posting something so vitriolic a couple of days back.
Well done.
Although you must not feel guilty.

She clearly skimmed you of 20% (so said she) and she never mentioned that. In some canton that would be illegal (unless you signed a contract for renting furniture). But it's not moral in any canton.

She's just a little fraudster, not properly communicative, etc... a "mafia level 0" (meaning a low skilled gangster with limited consequences).

Just for that scamming attempt and abuse of people in need (of accommodation) I'd screw that rat over.

You chose the "mediation way", which satisfy both of you. Fair enough, well done.
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